Volume 6 Issue 1 (2010): Autoethnography as Research Practice
Ethics and Vulnerability in Autoethnographic Practice

The Crises and Freedoms of Researching Your Own Life

Published August 18, 2010
  • autoethnography,
  • motherloss,
  • emotions,
  • vulnerability,
  • grief,
  • narrative
  • ...More


There has been much work highlighting the benefits of autoethnographic research yet little acknowledgement of the demands researching your own life makes on the emotional and mental wellbeing of the researcher. This paper explores the consequences that can arise as a result of autoethnographic research by detailing the crises involved in researching a topic that the researcher has experienced herself. This paper discusses the re-emergence of my grief over the death of my mother as I researched into the experience of other young women who had experienced the death of their mother during their youth. The research process was a journey in which crises were experienced that conflicted and illuminated the emerging findings of the research. The role of the researcher and the researcher’s subjectivity--emotions, feelings, actions--are highlighted as integral to research practice. Accepting vulnerability and problematic feelings and emotions can be seen both as an important part of grieving the loss of a mother but also a significant step in conducting research and being a researcher.